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Why I Deleted 52% of My Email Subscribers and Why I Recommend that You too Do it!

December 11, 2017

Last Updated on - December 11, 2017  

minutes read

email subscriber deletion

That title would have made you think that I am crazy.

No surprise really!

I would only be surprised if you didn’t think that way. Because it is obviously crazy for somebody to delete 52% of email subscribers. And that too, subscribers you would have built using your sweat and blood.

After all list building is so difficult.

Yeah! That’s right. I spent about an year building that list. Slowly adding subscribers by the count.

Then Why did I have to delete them and clean my email subscriber list?

You see List building is very tricky. It is that question of “To be or, not to be”.

You keep asking yourself if you should just add anybody and everybody to your list or, just add the hyper-targeted, interested folks to your list, like what Andre Chaperon teaches.

And the irony is that there is no real answer to it.

Most marketers like Ryan Diess and scores of others teach you to build an email list of subscribers coming to your website, irrespective of what their interest and taste is. But the fact that they are giving out their email address in return for information on something, makes the point clear that they are interested in that “something” or, the topic that is covered in that “something”.

But here is the twist to the tale.

The same subscriber would have entered the same email on fifty other websites if not hundred, for the same “something” that they subscribed for, on your website.

The result!

They are bombarded with emails from you and your neighbor who incidentally turns out to be a blogger as well, and on whose website also the same subscriber entered his email address.

Over a period of time, the subscribers does just one thing to all the emails that he receives – shift+delete them.

Because you don’t have a story that can hold him and your emails are pretty boring. Or, you have only been sending him marketing emails after emails.

This is the situation with most of us, unless you can write emails like Andre, that are gripping and can hold them on their seats. After all Andre is the only one who gets emails from subscribers asking him to send more emails.

And over a period of time, this will start to show up in your email open rates and click through rates.

The Email Subscribers Open Rates Saga

What is an ideal email open rate?

To be frank, I am not sure and I don’t think any marketer can be really sure of that. Some marketers like Andre has open rates that are as high as 72% but the average marketer sees an open rate of about 12-15%, which I think is ideal if you have built a strong relationship with your subscribers.

So is there a resistance point where you need to take a call on what to do with your subscribers?

Not really.

It is entirely your decision to make.

Take my case for example. I was getting about 15-17% open rates for my emails. This is in spite of me not being regular with my emails and not spending a lot of time building relationships (which is something I started to do after going to Andre Chaperon’s, Storytelling for marketers course).

The Opportunity Cost

What if I tell you that I was able to make some money by deleting the 52% email subscribers from my list?

Surprised? Shocked?

Let us look at some plain and simple maths.

I am with Aweber for long now and I simply love them for their customer support, simple and lean interface and of course the easy to use features.

I have a list of a little over 12,000 subscribers in one of my lists.

Assuming that this is the only list I have and looking at the costing for that many subscribers, I would be paying about $149 per month. Let me call this as the carrying cost of my email subscribers.

As per my stats, I was getting about a 15% open rates. Which meant that about 10,200 subscribers in my list weren’t really opening my emails.

And when I ran a search (I will show you the criteria in just a while), I found that almost 50% of these subscribers haven’t opened an email in about 4 months. So that was about 6000 subscribers who wouldn’t really open my emails.

So, I sent them a rejuvenation email for which I got about 5% open rates, which brought down he number of people not opening the emails down to about 5700.

The immediate next plan on Aweber, which would let me carry upto 10,000 subscribers, was for $69 per month, which is a full $80 saving per month.

There are 2 things to keep in mind here –

  • First, I wasn’t really making any money out of these subscribers. So if I were to calculate the ROI on my list, it would go up to about $0.70 per subscriber if I did not have these people on my list.
  • Second, I was spending about $80 extra per month just to carry these email subscribers who weren’t really doing anything but sitting there in my email list.

So I decided to delete them.

If you look at the opportunity cost, I was making $80 per month for this list of about 5500+ subscribers (which ideally is the saving because I do not have them on my list or, in other words, the opportunity cost).

And that was a decent earning for a dead list.

The Action Plan

But the big question is – how do you decide how long is too long?

I follow a pretty simple formula.

Every 3-4 months, I would run a deep dive into how my subscribers are responding.

The below is a typical search that I would do on Aweber. I would look at a period of about 4 months back.


manage email subscribers


Once I have this segment identified, I would send them an email. This is a one last try to see if any of them open my emails or, click on the links in it.

And then I would follow it up with another email, which is basically the last email that I send them.

Then I once again run the exact same search as above so that I get the final list of people who are not interested in getting emails from me.

That gives me the list of people that I will delete.

Your criteria can be different from that of mine, but I feel that 4 months is a good enough time to assess if somebody is going to open my emails or, not.

Let me tell you another sneaky TIP that you might want to consider when making this decision.

TIP: An important piece that can be your point of decision is the pricing. Let me take the example of Aweber. They have a tiered pricing and for a list with anything between 10001 – 25000 subscribers, I would be paying the same $149 per month.

If my total subscribers were in the mid-range of that, meaning it was about 20,000 and I saw about 5,000 subscribers who weren’t really opening my email, I would end up at around 15000 subscribers, even if I were to delete these emails.

This doesn’t really alter anything from a payment perspective. So the opportunity cost that we spoke about doesn’t exist.

But then here the point you need to consider will be, if you are willing to live with a poor open rate and click through rate. If yes, you can carry that list a little longer else just go and delete it.

The Dearness Dilemma and the Safety Harness

There is this strange feeling when you see that something that you possess is not worthy of keeping and needs to be disposed. The feeling is of “giving it one more chance to see if it can be used in some way or, form“.

Because you don’t want to throw away something that you have acquired with difficulty (if that is how you earned it).

Because it is dear to you and you don’t want to simple discard it.

This is not uncommon in all of us.

And that is pretty much the feeling when you see that about 5000 odd subscribers weren’t really responding to your emails and that you need to delete them.

My recommendation – Just delete them!

The only caveat here is if your list is not growing enough.

Keep in mind that you need to keep building your list. If this doesn’t happen, you will end up with a Zero list in less than a year, if you were to follow the above process.

Over to You

So, what’s your criteria to filter subscribers who need to be deleted from your list?

Is it 4 months or, 6 months?

Comment below and tell us why you follow that criteria and we can start an interesting conversation.

About the author

My name is Dilip. I am a fan of the internet and love the many opportunities that the world wide web provides. If used constructively , the internet can give you an opportunity to lead a life free of the 9-5 treadmill and will be able to give more time to your family members.
Read about internet entrepreneurship at my blog.

  • Hi Dilip,

    It’s great to read your post. I was busy with my projects, that’s the reason I was inactive a bit, specially reading & commenting was completely off.

    Anyways, I completely agree with your points, Building only a healthy email list is important these days, so I appreciate your efforts for giving these tips. Great work.

    ~ Donna

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